It's not an audit, according to the state Department of Community and Economic Development; it's a "fiscal monitoring review."
Until last week we were under the impression - because everyone we talked to in city government used the term - that the DCED's inspection of documents and interviews with local officials about the $500,000 grant-to-loan for the Allegheny Center for the Arts building project was an audit.
Not so, says the DCED's spokesman; and audit would be a more formal dissection of the program performed by an independent certified public accountant. This can be handled "in-house."
The report we've all been waiting for appears to be a more cursory examination of the corpse that could lead to an audit down the road.
That's disappointing, because it might indicate a couple of different things.
1. The DCED's "review" will be somewhat superficial and simply look for errors or omissions in procedure or policy that may have played a part in the disappointment known as the ACA building project.
2. The whole matter may just fade away, saving both city officials, project partners, and others tied to the project the embarrassment of having their affairs displayed in a public format.
3. It will go no further than this, leaving the alphabet soup of paper corporations and alliances to battle behind the scenes in a flurry of legal paperwork designed to tidy things up.
None of those outcomes, we suspect, will sate the public's demand for answers.
The legacy of GROWArren hangs over the head of city government like a dark cloud and isn't likely to dissipate until a full examination of GROWarren and its mechanics is allowed into the light. And, that goes beyond a simple examination of a single failed project.
We hope we're too pessimistic and the DCED's report will answer more questions than it spawns, but we'll have to wait to see. DCED is finished its work, but won't say when it will be released.